one on one

Odds are that at least once in your career, you will be faced with a difficult situation at work and will find yourself needing to have a one on one conversation with your boss. If you are anything like me, the mere thought of having one of these serious conversations causes nerves to set in and sweat glands to go into overdrive.  Whether it is a conversation about why you aren’t able to meet a deadline, issues with a coworker, or you have recently become aware of inappropriate workplace activities, the issue needs to be addressed in a professional manner.  No matter the situation, go to your boss prepared with these tips in mind.

Don’t let nerves stop you from talking to your boss.  Although the thought of a one on one meeting can be sweat inducing, make sure that your sweaty palms don’t cause you to wait too long to discuss your concerns with your boss.  If you wait a month to talk to them, your credibility is in question and your boss will wonder why you didn’t bring your concerns to their attention sooner.  Waiting too long can also result in the situation becoming much bigger and harder to manage.

Schedule a time to talk with your boss.  Even though most employers have an open door policy, unless it’s an emergency you will want to schedule a time to sit down with them.  They will appreciate advanced notice that you need to have a one on one conversation so that they can set time aside and give you their undivided attention.  Scheduling time also gives you an opportunity to review what you need to talk with them about, and gives you a chance to get control of your emotions if needed.

Write down and practice what you need to say. In complicated workplace situations it can be difficult to accurately and concisely relay your feelings and concerns.  To ensure that you don’t go off on a random tangent or lose sight of the purpose of the meeting, write your talking points down before your one on one.  If applicable, write down any times and dates that are relevant to your discussion.  By writing down what you need to convey, reviewing it, and even practicing it, you are more likely to get your issues addressed.

Avoid going to your boss when you are emotional.  Anger, sadness, and anxiety are all natural reactions to stressful situations in the workplace, but you will be thankful if you take some time to cool down, check your emotions at the door and maintain a level head throughout your meeting.  After all, you don’t want your boss to remember you as the employee that they were handing tissues to while you were uncontrollably crying about a dispute with a coworker.

Maintain good body language, eye contact, and posture. Despite the difficult nature of your meeting, you can show your boss that you are confident through your body language.  By maintaining good posture, eye contact and not using aggressive hand gestures, you are demonstrating your ability to stay calm and professional even in a stressful situation.

Follow up. It will feel great to get your concerns off of your chest, but the one on one with your boss isn’t a counseling session (they don’t make enough for that).  They aren’t there to just listen to you; they are there to help you solve issues in the workplace.  So once you have brought your concerns to their attention, you need to be available if they have any more questions for you.  If needed, make plans to discuss how the situation is handled and how they resolved your concerns.


Although nerves may still cause you to break out in a sweat, throw some deodorant on and follow these tips to ensure that your boss doesn’t notice during your one on one meeting.